Governor’s Latest Budget Proposal Slashes Millions More from West Hartford

West Hartford Town Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed a revised budget on Monday, May 15, cutting hundreds of millions more in state aid to cities and towns – including a drastic cut to West Hartford.

By Ronni Newton

A revised budget proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday not only failed to return funds to West Hartford that would be cut under his initial proposal in February, but instead cuts nearly $17 million more in state aid to the town.

The total impact on West Hartford’s budget could be a reduction of state aid to the town in FY2018 of a figure approaching a staggering $30 million.

A news release issued with the governor’s latest budget proposal states that it is “designed to maintain the administration’s goals of providing more fiscal stability and predictability for taxpayer, businesses, and local governments, while continuing bolster the state’s efforts to grow the economy and create jobs.”

And while the newest state budget proposal would cut General Fund expenditures by another $241 million and other funds by $363 million in FY2018 to take into account the growing deficit, it also bolsters aid to many of the state’s larger cities, including Hartford.

“It whacks West Hartford and gives more money to the city,” Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said. “It’s like draining the blood from the body.”

“It’s shocking. It’s not manageable. It will gut our community,” Mayor Shari Cantor said.

Van Winkle, Cantor, and other town administrators were still crunching the numbers Monday after receiving the latest proposal, but an initial analysis shows that the combined impact of further reductions to Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funds plus elimination of a Special Education Grant, the Motor Vehicle Grant, and other changes are about $17 million. Under this proposal, the town would still be responsible for a portion of teacher pension expenses, although slightly less ($7.9 million rather than $8.01 million).

That’s just the additional cuts made in this proposal. “The meaningful number is more like $28 or $29 million,” Van Winkle said.

“I hope that there’s an understanding that all communities contribute to the state’s vitality,” Cantor said. “West Hartford is very much a part of that and to sacrifice the financial stability of the town – a vibrant, diverse inner-ring suburb – is just unfathomable.”

Van Winkle said he considers the prospect of this budget actually passing to be very slim, and until the state actually passes a budget there’s not any need for the town to take fiscal action.

“This proposal – coupled with the original plan to cut more than $14 million in support to West Hartford – would be a devastating one-two punch for our schools, services for seniors, and everyone who pays property taxes,” State Rep. Derek Slap (D-19th) said Monday.

There’s way too much uncertainty, and Van Winkle doesn’t have any hopes that the state will pass a budget by June. In this proposal, the state is playing “big brother” by keeping the mill rate cap for vehicles, Van Winkle said.

West Hartford passed its $285.4 budget on April 25, 2017, and it will take effect July 1, 2017, regardless of where the state is in its budget process.

“This is only one of many budgets,” Van Winkle said of Monday’s proposal from Malloy. There are budgets from the governor, as well as from the Republicans and Democrats. From West Hartford’s perspective, he said, “This one is certainly the worst of any of the budgets.”

Van Winkle said that many legislators – including those in West Hartford’s delegation – referred to the governor’s initial budget proposal as “dead on arrival,” and this one is even more devastating to West Hartford, as well as to many other municipalities some of which – like Avon, Farmington, and Glastonbury – would have ECS completely eliminated.

“Unbelievable” was the term that Slap used to describe the latest proposal. “I will continue working with the West Hartford delegation and other members of the General Assembly to find a better solution.”

“Whatever the state decides to do we’ll have to deal with,” Van Winkle said. “I can’t fathom this would have a chance of passing.”

Click here to view the governor’s entire May 15, 2017, budget proposal.

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  • As a resident of West Hartford, I know it to be an incredibly liberal town. That is fine. What bothers me is that people continue to vote the way of Democrat (Malloy) without looking at all the facts. This guys has absolutely crippled the state of Connecticut but because it’s a “blue” state we have no chance of seeing any change. WeHa will continue to vote Democrat and not really understand the recourse it has on the town. Luckily, Malloy is hanging it up. The question is, will we make the same mistake again. It’s becoming harder and harder to justify not only this town but the state of CT altogether.

  • The governor is rearranging the deck chairs on his Titanic mess, many years in the making and all afraid to deal with the reality. NOtHING substantive has been done to the expense side that would impact future built-in increases that are unfunded. Perhaps we should send an observer to Puerto Rico to observe their resolution. The Governor is proposing one preposterous solution after another so that ahything will appear to be better although not a long-term solution that is called for. He penalizes those communities who have lived within their resources while not resolving the state’s built in challenges. A bible scholar: “steal from Peter to pay Paul”!

  • The Republicans on the council did say the approved town budget was not responsible for the fiscal situation, and did not vote for it. The situation is now more glaring, what will it take to do really do something? I see a town job opening for a IT tech at the library, WH to pay $75-100K for a person to do book deliveries to shutins, things like that. You can get someone for $10 an hour!!!! I thought there was supposed to be a hiring freeze for non-essential positions!!!

  • “The meaningful number is more like $28 or $29 million,” Van Winkle said.

    This is for one year. $29mm/63000(about the amnt of people in town (Google)) = $460 additional per person to maintain the budget.

    Family of four = $1840 (coming from somewhere, in other words your pocket)

    This doesn’t include the the increases already agreed on in the budget.

    At least we can go see the Yardgoats…

  • Wow – WH still hiring like mad. Starting salaries are out of control – opening for social worker with two years experience, pay range $68,458 – $84,578! No WONDER this town has a PROBLEM.

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